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Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 12:20 AM PDT

Informants in our midst

by Marcion

I live in a beautiful racially mixed neighborhood in LA.  A long time ago this was the first Beverly Hills, mansions and limos.  Then the city grew all around it and white flight turned it into the place where wealthier African Americans lived undisturbed by the daily humiliations of racial laws which kept them out of the newly designated white neighborhoods.  Then the freeway building began, trying to make this sprawling monster of a city accessible again.  Several freeways were planned going east west across LA, the routes hotly debated.  The one that was supposed to run along the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains through the white neighborhoods was killed by resident resistance, fears that the wrong elements could come in.  So there is still no good freeway access to Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.  But the major freeway, I-10, was the cornerstone, and after some debate, it was built bisecting the old rich black neighborhood of West Adams, destroying it overnight, turning the northern half of it into an extension of the teeming Koreatown, and the south half into the northern edge of the South Central ghetto.

The riots during the 90s swept freely though this neighborhood, but their traces are gone now.  In their place came another wave of gentrification, as whites, driven east by the unholy real estate prices of the beach towns of the Westside, became attracted to the gorgeous and huge turn of the century homes here.  And so they poured in.  I became part of that wave as well, though I rent, not own.  And that might be the big difference here.  You see, my white neighbors, motivated primarily by the prospect of "cleaning up this neighborhood" and therefore raising the prices of their homes, and of course "thinking of the children" have been waging a brutal police campaign against the other residents in the neighborhood.  They are so chummy with the police that cruisers stop by every few weeks just to chit chat and find out their concerns.  They formed a neighborhood association (because obviously before they arrived, there was no community here), which invites cops and DAs to speak of the ongoing war on crime and drugs and so forth.  

And most repugnantly, the whites continuously inform on everybody else.   As my landlady puts it, "I turn off my light and make my quiet phone calls."  Any person of color idling in their car, any group of teenagers, anybody acting suspicious (and that's pretty much everybody here, this is LA after all) gets the cops called on them.  Cars are then searched, pockets patted down, names are run through the system and people end up on the ground in cuffs on an old bench warrant, a nickel bag of weed, a permanent market (unlawful tool of vandalism).  

Not that it's ncecessarly a racial thing, I remember hearing similar stories when I lived in Venice, from the old timers proudly telling me how they used to call the cops on their mostly white neighbors all the time there, until the home prices began to soar and all the hippies that used to live there became homeless or went elsewhere.  The guy who told me the most stories was a handiman who I swear would bring women over to fuck in my bed when I wasn't home. One time the leg of the frame was broken.  Explain that, you horny snitching bastard.  His own constant petty criminality never bothered him, but he was always ready to inform on a neighbor for the sake of the greater good.

The police love this sort of "community policing," when they don't have to do anything but wait for the phone call to get their probable cause add go stir some shit up, LAPD style, lots of cars parked diagonally in the street, black uniforms, helicopters swooping and blinding everyone with their spotlights.  I once asked a cop why they always park in the most obstructive and haphazard way possible, even if there is no emergency.  He told me it's part of their training, to impress the public with the urgency and importance of the police.  Then he asked me where I lived and began to probe for weaknesses, but was obliged to desist in light of my whiteness.

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Constantly calling the police on your neighbors

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Tue Jul 12, 2011 at 01:20 AM PDT

Bugs inside and out

by Marcion

As part of my initiation into the secrets of Los Angeles, which are many and storied, which has taken place over the years of my exile here, I have found that there are these bugs in LA that the population calls "water bugs" which look much like cockroaches but are twice as big. Unlike your standard East Coast or European roach, a down to earth proletarian who makes an honest living in your home stealing your left overs, these bugs live under the city by the millions, but not in the homes. They only come into the homes to find water during the dry season, such as now. They are unknown to science and assumed to have been living here since the dawn of time, and now living in harmony with mankind, without biting or infestation. When there is a drip somewhere, they come to drink of it.  It is remarkable how essentially medieval an average person's knowledge of their world still is, outside of those areas in which he or she is proficient.

But that is not that bad, you are probably thinking, water bugs don't merit a diary when the debt ceiling is in play. Indeed, the majority of the population thinks little of this issue of the millions of water bugs moving silently beneath our feet at all times, except maybe the for the parents of the infants who are sacrificed to the giant Water Bug of North Hollywood (naturally they are bigger and more aggressive in the Valley). What makes this story special to me, and perhaps for a fleeting moment to you, my dear reader, is that they have apparently chosen me as their king, or they may believe that my body contains a fluid they think of as holy ambrosia.  Or morel likely they believe in something far different and fantastic.

They will often come out at night and just stare at me. One came to my pillow last night, which creeped me the fuck out, just crawled as close to me as it could and stared longingly into my eyes, as if trying to tell me something. A few months before one laboriously crawled toward me through the closet as I sat by the computer. I could hear his tedious shuffling, becoming progressively more and more disturbed by it, as if being sucked into a David Kronenberg film. Finally he fearlessly crawled out into the light, and came to sit by my chair, looking up at me.  At first I though they were cockroaches and was severely unnerved by this behavior, so unnatural to any of the cockroaches I had known before.  But now I mostly just wish I knew what they want from me.  It cannot be assumed that they are here as simple messengers to relate something to me about my life in terms I can grasp.  That seems to be an absurd anthropomorphism, a solipsistic self-delusion.  The bugs have their own world and their own understanding of it.

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There is a continuous tension between the United States of America, the most successful and most populous of the settler states planted by European imperialists around the world, and America's central position within the current world empire.   Because the concept of "empire" has become essentially a negative epithet or an abstract historical term, understood only in relation to the more famous examples of empire creation in history.  Empire, however, isn't something that the Romans invented, or that died with the British, or that is plotted by some dastardly neo-cons in the Pentagon basement.   Empire is one of the most logical and inevitable of historical processes, it exists in all time periods, because it makes sense for a great many people at any given time.  

Simply put, the drive for empire is the drive for unity, standardization, ease of communication and trade, the elimination of barriers between peoples, and the reduction of petty strife.  It is the same urge that causes communities to evolve police forces and common systems of exchange and dispute resolution, but writ large, bringing together as much space and population as can be held together given the period's constraints in communication, military technology and economic conditions.   As soon as civilization arose among the great rivers of the temperate zone, and more and more communities began living in a similar wary, producing goods that had value to their neighbors and possessed of a written language and rudimentary legal and financial structures, the drive for agglomeration began, with more and more regions uniting under the most warlike tribe in the neighborhood, giving rise to a succession of empires the achievements of which can still be seen on the world map today, from China to Europe.   Sooner or later, a pattern of unification, centralization and standardization sweeps over any even mildly homogenous zone, because the benefits of such development become manifest to a great proportion of its inhabitants.  

It is essential to understand the dynamics of Empire to realize that Empire is at its heart not a coercive force, that Empires do not arise by conquest alone, they arise when the governed consent to a large extent to the new structure because of the benefits it brings them.  The Roman Empire did not come into being with the conquest of the Greeks and the Carthaginians, it became an Empire when Roman citizenship and its benefits was extended to 75 million people around the Mediterranean world.  

The center of the empire might shift with the passage of time and new developments, as it did in China, starting in the southeast and migrating until it came to rest in Beijing, a place far north of the original civilized imperial zone, pulled there because the northern barbarians of the steppe joined the empire and eventually became the driving military force behind it.  It similarly traveled from the Middle East and Egypt northward, pulled first by the advantage to communication and travel offered by the Mediterranean basin, and then by the strength of the northern barbarians, first to Greece, Carthage and Rome, then toward the Germanic tribes, settling on the western edge and then following the great colonization effort of the Europeans and ending up in the most successful and militarily capable European settler state, the United States of America.  Just as the power of the Phoenicians, never able to fully exert their power because of the divisions and limitations of their cramped homeland in the Eastern Mediterranean, came to its highest flowering and greatest height of imperial unification in Carthage on the northwestern coast of Africa, so too the power of the Europeans, drained in the bloody wars for supremacy of that continent, came to rest in America where it could grow without the constraints of old borders and rivalries.  From this new secure center, the empire was able to unite the old mother countries with their former colonies in a protective cocoon, defended by the ferocious and numerous soldiers bred on the North American continent and watered by the stream of capital accumulated during centuries of imperial agglomeration.  

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Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 11:00 PM PDT

TAKING A STAND AGAINST COCK PICS

by Marcion

The time has come for all decent human beings to take a stand.  Let us speak with one voice -- no more cock pics.  I'm not calling for the cock pic to resign their official positions, to stop playing professional sports, to leave Craigslist or Twitter, or to stop taking the pictures in the first place.  No, let them continue in their ways, but let us as a society say loudly and clearly, "That's messed up."  

A dude who comes on to a woman by sending her a preview of his shaved turgid member, or of a strangely crooked bulge in his underwear, or even of just the head, peaking out like some demented mushroom up to no good, is not a good guy.  He is not serving Eros, but at best some sort of goat god who was flayed alive by Apollo for a bet.  And he hardens the hearts of his fellow humans, both the men, who lose a little of themselves every time they see another man's johnson, to the women who become sadly jaded about the prospects of finding true romance in the form of texts and jpegs. And obviously any god who might be watching is weeping right now from his many mighty orifices.

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Have you ever done the following as a means of flirtation

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Since his inauguration, Obama has waged a different style of war than his predecessor.  There is a marked preference for strikes by CIA controlled drone aircraft crossing international boundaries without the need to obtain any local consent,  streamlined SpecialOps raids, and the ever greater use of mercenary armies and local forces trained and paid for by the West.  

There are currently at least 3 mercenary armies being prepared for combat in Somalia: a 2,000 man private force trained by Blackwater founder Erik Prince, another 2,000 being trained by EU troops, with thousands more being trained in Uganda by undisclosed backers.  These numbers are in addition to the 8,000 strong UN funded AU mission under siege in the capital, and to the armed forces of the breakaway regions Somaliland and Puntland, which already exist as de facto Western protectorates.  

This is the face of Democratic war -- no white boots on the ground, no public outrage, but still lots of people dying "over there" so that we can feel safe "over here," with a bit of humanitarian handwringing thrown in.  

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The proper place for anti-war activism

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Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 03:48 PM PST

The myth of the Nazis

by Marcion

In modern Western society, there is no worse political slur than Nazi. In Europe any positive reference to the Nazi regime or any disagreement with the official myths on that era are illegal.

The Nazi phenomenon has been elevated to one of the top official myths of Westerndom. It is cultivated to crate a separation from the past for the regimes which are the heirs of the systematic world wide genocides and atrocities of the colonial ear during which the wealth and foundations of the modern Western state were created. The myth provides that in fighting against the Nazis the West exculpated itself for its past crimes, without changing its actual social structure or ceasing even for a moment the colonialist brutality.

The Holocaust is painted as the worst event in history, and one which permits only one interpretation, one which is extremely politically useful to Western interesets. The cult of the condemnation of the Holocaust allows the US, a country which conducted the most successful genocide in modern history against the Native Americans, better than Iran, a country which in its entire history has only wage one war, a defensive struggle against Iraq.

But how long can this distorted myth survive, even with the resources of the dominant world powers and their propaganda machines behind it?  

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The concept of the Holocasut should most properly be

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Mon Oct 25, 2010 at 01:27 AM PDT

Witnessing the death of triangulation

by Marcion

The Obama Administration has been trying to govern according to the old DLC triangulation theories, which provide that that progressive ideas are too scary for the American public and that each and every one of them must be dialectically fused with its opposite proposal from the right, to arrive at a position just a notch to the left of the Republican position, cutting the Republicans off from the independents and undecideds, who will then be to the left, on the Democratic side of the issue.

This worked to some extent for Bill Clinton, though it failed to get Gore elected. But by now, it's an outdated strategy. The Republicans have figured out how to counter it pretty well, they've had the time to study it and its architect, Dick Morris, is now a faithful servant of the GOP. It's a risky approach, because the "consensus" position arrived at through such triangulation is actually not held by anyone. Unless the public comes to see the position as the "middle of the road" one, there is a possibility of simply sitting down between tow chairs. After all, actually driving down the middle of the road is a suicidal move, since you are in neither line of traffic.  Let us hope somebody can jerk the wheel back before a total wreck occurs.

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Who do you blame?

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sometimes I come across a news item that makes even an inveterate cynic like myself want to vote. Today, in Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, SWAT teams forced entry into the homes of American citizens active in the peace movement, executing search warrants on behalf of the FBI, searching for evidence that the American peace movement is connected to foreign terrorist organizations. In the case of one activist, the FBI was seeking to obtain evidence that his travels to places such as Palestine and Colombia must have been funded by Hizbollah and FARC.

Can you imagine these sorts of witchunts taking place under a Democratic President? Why, or why did I sit on the sidelines and allowed John McCain to win?

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What is the most regrettable effect of failing to elect a Democratic President in 2008?

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Sun Aug 08, 2010 at 03:43 PM PDT

A Youtube kind of war

by Marcion

Living so deep within the imperial web, behind so many layers of propaganda and paranoia, it is difficult to comprehend that there is somewhere still opposition to the power structure.  The tendency on the left is, in dismissing the War on Terror, to minimize the targets of the ongoing Western military operations.  The causes and cures of the conflict, in traditionally British/American shopkeeper fashion is to reduce the conflict to a bread riot, to be obviated by a distribution of third rate flour into the emaciated hands of the teeming colonials.  On the right meanwhile, the war is of course presented as a struggle between good and evil.

But there are ways to cut through to another layer of reality. Youtube, for example. Look into the faces of the resistance. Listen to its defiant voice. Walk in their footsteps. And then ask, who are they and why are they?

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Before the advent of militant monotheism cut down all the holy groves of Hellas and the dark fire caverns of Persia, the world was dotted with sanctified ground upon which no combat could take place and sanctuaries where no arrest could be made. These no longer exist, of course, for who could imagine an American police officer pausing at the steps of a church. Or an American soldier stopping at the threshold of a mosque. To be sure, the Puritans who are present on the left as on the right insist on discipline, decorum and rigid restrictive norms, but there will always be those who resist the imposed limitations.  

Now comes before us IGTNT, the society of holy mourners, and demands that its comments section be reserved solely to Amen!  Let's then examine their case in light on the ancient authorities and modern moralities, the reality of an Empire at war and of millions of volunteers to assist the Empire in that war.

It has always good rhetoric to come to "bury Caesar, not to praise him." But can there an Empire without the loyal legions, and those who extol their bravery? And is it safe to separate the two in our minds, to grant one complete immunity for all criticism?

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Add a number to a truth in recruiting hotline into each IGTNT diary?

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The nation of Kyrgyzstan entered a period of extreme instability when its previous government was overthrown. For a few weeks, the change of government appeared to be successful, as a provisional government prepared for a constitutional referendum to create the next legitimate permanent government.

However, it now appears that the provisional government has lost control of its southern region, with the second and third largest cities having been overrun by large numbers of rioters, who are attacking government targets as well as launching bloody pogroms against the Uzbek minority.

As a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security organization set up by China and Russia in 2001 to check NATO' expansion into Central Asia, the Kyrgyz provisional gov't has requested a military peacekeeping force from the SCO, which request is currently under discussion. If approved, this would be the first mission for the organization's military forces.  With a vital NATO base and supply route in Kyrgyzstan, it would be a historic mission.

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The emergence of a counterweight to NATO such as the SCO

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As the Obama Administration tripled the number of combat troops in Afghanistan, their mission has been repeatedly redefined. The latest version calls for a major offensive to be launched in Kandahar Province, which is supposed to be the last major US push of this protracted conflict, with a gradual withdrawal to begin next year, so long as the withdrawal is supported by a progress report due in December.

The first of the 2010 operations, the taking and holding of the Marjah regional center in Helmand Province, is now being described by its top commander as a "bleeding ulcer.". The American garrison has had to abandon the countryside and pull back on the town center, which it nonetheless controls only by day, while the residents flee the chaos in increasing numbers.

On the heels of this failed operation comes the centerpiece of Obama’s surge, the clearing of Kandahar. Allow me to provide a preview to this much anticipated event.

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Who is winning the War on Terror?

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